Although painkiller creams and gels can help with osteoarthritis (OA), researchers have found that their effect lasts only a verybrief period. The study involved an analysis of 13 trials of painkillers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Theresults indicated that topical solutions were no more effective than a placebo after 14 days.
US and European guidelines recommend topical NSAIDs as an effective treatment for OA. The researchers, however, said that the recommendationsneed revisions. "No evidence supports the long-term use of topical NSAIDs in osteoarthritis," said Weiya Zhang, PhD, anepidemiologist and expert on muscle diseases. (The findings were reported recently in the British Medical Journal.)